A sunny day in autumn
Looking on the positive side, we are all lucky to be alive in a country where there are Novembers.
Yet Andy @nyt has published a depressing story about depressed Ukrainians, who sound a lot like depressed expat shitposters I’ve bumped into recently on social media. You know, the ones who swap war stories and their idiotic opinions about BIPOC and Israel’s war with Hamas. They include flabby ex-diplomats and burnt out veterans of foreign (mostly unsuccessful American) military campaigns, who enjoy “fighting” eachother on X and in Kyiv’s hipster bars, alas, instead of doing PT and putting their sought-after essential trench-clearing skills to good use.
It’s as if every time Andy dives into an experience of Ukraine and tries to find anything else than just depression itself, he can't find anything if it's other than a sensation, other than a feeling. He can’t even find himself who is feeling that thing. All there is, to paraphrase David Hume, are sensual slivers of space time. That's it. He is being smacked by one dreadful complaint after the other. And then he has the hubris to put squeeze them all together, repeat them several times and, on the basis of these miserable laments — and opinion surveys — characterize the current ambience of Ukraine’s unpredictable universe.
Well, excuse me. The sun is shining and I’m going for a long run.
Lucky for all of us, Andy almost always gets the story wrong. Last time I checked, there was no functioning conscription system in Ukraine. Z dismissed all the heads of military enlistment offices across the country in early August. The plan is to recruit — not draft — eligible candidates to fill the ranks1.
The big news this week came on Saturday — the visit of Ursula von Leyen, who promised to keep funding Ukraine. Henry from The Financial Times wrote up the story2. (Nearly one year ago we mentioned Henry3.)
A Ukrainian journalist at 17.54 asks Z a question:
This week, The Economist published an interview with Commander-in-Chief Varleriy Zaluzhny, who said decisive battlefield conditions today lend themselves to to “positional” warfare (as opposed to “maneuver” warfare) and that this benefits Russia’s efforts to prolong the war. What do you think about this? Has this been discussed at meetings between you and top military commanders? What steps is Ukraine taking to facilitate a “technological breakthrough” to change this trend?
Z responds, first by recalling how western leaders contemplated how long Ukraine would hold after Russia’s February 24, 2022 attempt to decapitate Kyiv.
[…] Not all of them [western leaders] were in touch with us at that time. […] Nonetheless, I was absolutely confident then in our ability to repel the invasion. At that time, we were in a position Ukraine had never been in before. But we believed in ourselves a lot, and fought and emerged victorious. Today people are tired. People get tired. We are all people, irrespective of the positions we hold. There are different views of the situation. We are not at a stalemate. I emphasize this. […] Russia controls the skies. In the coming months we will try to conserve military manpower. No one wants to throw Ukrainian forces in meat storms against the enemy, like Russia does. What can we do? We are trying to get F-16s, but we have to wait for this while our pilots receive training. It’s a long process. Also, there is air defense. We have tried to get more air defense. When we will have have air defense systems at the front, our soldiers will move forward, taking part in counteroffensive operations. A year ago, we found ourselves in a dire, complicated situation. Everyone then said it was a stalemate, like today, but we successfully counterattacked in Kharkiv and Kherson regions. Everyone today has forgotten the clever tactical operations, which enabled those successes.
There are various aspects of the situation today. Different people have different opinions of what to do. I don’t think we have time to mull our options and throw our hands up, because … What is the alternative? When we think about this or that option going forward, we need to always consider the alternative for our action [or inaction]. Of course, we must safeguard our people. That’s a fact. But what’s the alternative? Give up? Then we will have to turn over one third of our territory [to Russia]. And that will only be the beginning. We all know what a frozen conflict will lead to. We learned our lesson. Why do we decide to adopt one or another format [for conducting the war]? We must all get together and work with our partners to address Russian air superiority and receive air defense systems, in order for our guys to go on the offensive. That’s what we should be thinking about, and only about that. We should be not thinking about where we will be tomorrow, but where we are today. - quick gist of Z’s response4.
In other words, Z agrees with Zaluzhny 100%, except at the end of his answer — “thinking about today, and only about that,” and planning for tomorrow. This, at best, a recipe for disaster, and, at worst, could be construed as pure lunacy.
As for seeking a ceasefire with Putin, practicing philospher Volodymyr Pastukhov fleshes out the senselessness of that endeavor.
Putin’s most expected reaction to any offer of a truce in exchange for refusing to fight militarily for the de-occupation of territories, in my opinion, should lead him to increase the stakes of the conflict immediately and return to the rhetoric about denazification and demilitarization of Ukraine — they say, it was in vain that we shed blood. If Putin does not do this, he will give a great gift to the Russian revolutionary democratic movement. But I haven’t believed in gifts from Putin for a long time. “Fear the Danaans5 who lay eggs” (Ilya Ilf).